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York Symposium on Early Christian Apocrypha


I thought some of you might be interested to know about a symposium focusing on early Christian apocrypha that will be taking place in the fall.  The schedule for the event has just been sent.  If any of you is near there, you should think about going!  It looks terrific.   It is being organized principally by Tony Burke, along with Brent Landau; they are two very active scholars in the field of apocrypha studies.


Here’s what the lineup looks like.



Fakes, Forgeries, and Fictions: Writing Ancient and Modern Christian Apocrypha

The 2015 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium will take place September 24-26 at Vanier College, York University. The specific objectives for the 2015 Symposium are: 1. to examine the possible motivations behind the production of Christian Apocrypha from antiquity until the present day, 2. to integrate medieval and modern apocrypha (composed in the 19th to 21st centuries) into the wider study of apocryphal literature, and 3. to reflect on what the reactions to the recently-publishedGospel of Jesus’ Wife can tell us about the creation, transmission, and reception of apocryphal Christian literature.

The highlight of this year’s event is a keynote address by Bart Ehrman, author ofForgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics(2012), and most recently How Jesus Became God (2014).

The event is organized by Tony Burke (York University) in consultation with Brent Landau (University of Texas at Austin). It brings together 20 Canadian and U.S. scholars to share their work and discuss present and future collaborative projects.

The symposium is open to scholars, students, and interested members of the public; all may register for the event and take part in discussions. One of the goals of the symposium is to make the work of North American scholars on the Christian Apocrypha more widely known, not only to scholars in cognate disciplines (such as New Testament Studies or Medieval Studies) but also to students, who will be the future scholars in the discipline, as well as to the wider public who is interested in the texts but has been ill-informed about them through films, novels, and fringe scholarship.

The York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium Series was created in 2011. The first symposium gathered together experts on the controversial Secret Gospel of Mark, a text that many scholars consider a modern forgery. The papers from that event were published by Cascade in early 2013 as Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate. The 2013 symposium featured over 20 Canadian and U.S. scholars to reflect on the North American approaches to Christian Apocrypha. The papers from that event will be published by Cascade in September 2015 asForbidden Texts on the Western Frontier: The Christian Apocrypha in North American Perspectives.


Registration fees have been kept very low to encourage participation, particularly from students. Those who register receive advance draft copies of the papers and can enjoy free drinks and snacks throughout the event. To register, download theREGISTRATION FORM here.

Preliminary Program

Thursday, September 24:
Evening reception for presenters

Friday, September 25:
9:00-9:15 Introductions: Tony Burke (York University) and Brent Landau (University of Texas in Austin)

9:15-12:00 – Session 1: Composing Apocrypha in Antiquity
Stanley E. Porter (McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario), “Lessons from the Papyri: What Apocryphal Gospel Fragments Reveal about the Textual Development of Early Christianity.”
Ross Ponder (University of Texas in Austin), “Reconsidering P. Oxy. 5072: Creation and Reception, Visual and Physical Features”
Paul Dilley (University of Iowa), “Post-Canonical Apocryphicity and the Homiletic Shift”
Pierluigi Piovanelli (University of Ottawa), “What Has Pseudepigraphy To Do with Forgery? Reflections on the Cases of the Acts of Paul, the Visio Pauli, and the Zohar.”

1:00-3:00 – Session 2: Apocryphal Apostolic Pseudepigraphy
Annette Yoshiko Reed, “Sub-Apostolic Pseudepigraphy and the Construction of the Apostolic Past: The Case of Clement of Rome”
Dominique Côté (University of Ottawa), “In the Name of James and Clement. The Brother of Jesus in the Pseudo-Clementines
Caitlin Purcell, (Duke University), “The Letters of Paul and Seneca as Stoic Propaganda in Early Christian Writing”
Gregory P. Fewster (University of Toronto), “Paul as Letter Writer and the Success of Pseudepigraphy: Constructing an Authorial Paul in the Corinthian Correspondence”

4:00-5:00 – Session 3: Modern Apocrypha
Tony Burke (York University), “‘Lost Gospels’ of the Nineteenth Century”
Bradley Rice (Concordia University), “The Apocryphal Tale of Jesus’ Journey to India: Nicolas Notovitch and the Life of Saint Issa Revisited”

8:00-9:30 – Keynote Address by Bart D. Ehrman (James A. Gray Distinguished Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), “Apocryphal Forgeries: The Logic of Literary Deceit”

Saturday, September 26:

9:00-12:00 – Session 4: Historical and Cultural Contexts of the Apocrypha.
Anne Moore (University of Calgary), “‘Days of Our Lives’: Female Friendship/Rivalry In the New Testament Apocrypha”
Brandon W. Hawk (University of Tennessee), “‘Cherries at command’: Preaching theGospel of Pseudo-Matthew in Anglo-Saxon England”
Tim Pettipiece (University of Ottawa), “Manichaean Redaction of the Secret Book of John”
Pamela Mullins Reaves (Colorado College), “Pseudo-Peter and Persecution: (Counter-) Evaluations of Suffering in Coptic Apocalypse of Peter (NHC VII,3) and The Letter of Peter to Philip (NHC VIII,2)”

1:00-3:00 – Session 5: Gospel of Jesus’ Wife
Carrie Schroeder (University of the Pacific), “Gender and the Academy Online: the Authentic Revelations of the Jesus Wife Fragment.”
James McGrath (Butler University), “Jesus’ Wife, Her Sister-in-Law, and the Bloggers”
Mark Goodacre (Duke University), “Blogging Jesus’ Wife.”
Janet Spittler (University of Virginia), Respondent

3:00-4:00 Concluding Reception

Misquoting Jesus Interview on WPSU
BBC Clip on “The Lost Gospels”



  1. Avatar
    Adam0685  May 1, 2015

    This event is right in my backyard, but I’ll be out of town. Darn! 🙁

  2. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  May 2, 2015

    Congratulations on being the keynote speaker. You are an amazingly productive scholar.

  3. Avatar
    dragonfly  May 2, 2015

    The gospel of Jesus’ wife??? I haven’t heard of that one. I hope it reads something like “and then I asked Jesus to pick up some wine on his way home for our anniversary. I suspect he just got some water from the well and turned it into wine. It was a good drop though!”

  4. Avatar
    Wilusa  May 2, 2015

    I have no intention of going, but as I read this, I was assuming the place involved was the original city of York, in northern England…until I saw mention of “Canadian and U.S. scholars,” not British. So is this “York” somewhere in Canada?

  5. Avatar
    dbjorn  May 2, 2015

    Will the content of the symposium be available to the general public in some form?

  6. AndrewBaranowski
    AndrewBaranowski  April 6, 2020

    I had the honour of getting to meet Dr. Ehrman in person at this event! It was a huge deal for me, especially because I’ve been a Bart Ehrman fan for years and years now, I own about half of Bart’s books, and have read all of them(with the exception of the ones written primarily for other scholars). I feel that I owe Dr. Ehrman a lot, because his books and YouTube videos contributed hugely to my own deconversion from Christianity years ago. I have to say though, I felt a bit outclassed at this event, since I was one of only a few people from the general public who attended the event, most of the people there seemed to be educated scholars, unlike me who only has a high school diploma, haha!

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